Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Julia Donaldson stirs things up

From yesterday's Herald: Children's author Julia Donaldson has blamed bureaucratic jargon in Scotland's new school curriculum for making teaching difficult.

What Julia is complaining about is an aspect of Curriculum for Excellence whereby teachers allegedly can't state what a child has achieved, but are expected to link it to the four underlying principles: that pupils be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. She also goes on to criticise the pendulum in methods for teaching reading which swings to and from phonics, whereas she is more in favour of blended techniques and, in this context, mentions a new series of plays she has launched to encourage group reading. As a non-teacher, I wouldn't dream of entering either of these arguments, but it reminded me of an article that I read before Christmas and had forgotten to write about.

Glasgow's Westender Magazine (scroll to the December / January edition) also interviewed Julia and she spoke to them about her plays too (Bug Club Plays To Read, a series of 36 published by Pearson - a few are shown below). As she said to the Herald "Reading a play is a way of involving everyone and it is brilliant because it means the children can all take part and can have roles which reflect their reading abilities." It can also help reluctant readers by making reading more fun and improve shyer children's self-confidence. Her new website, Picture Book Plays, has been set up to help teachers dramatise stories themselves. So Julia might be stirring things up, but it sounds as though it could be to good effect!

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